According to Musk, the Boring Company’s tunnels will “prioritize pedestrians & cyclists over cars.” He didn’t say that the tunnels would never support cars, but he believes that surrounding communities will benefit most if the Boring Company focuses on mass transportation.
Will still transport cars, but only after all personalized mass transit needs are met. It’s a matter of courtesy & fairness. If someone can’t afford a car, they should go first.
Most notably, Musk tweeted a video that shows what this vision might look like.
In the video, a concept pod of sorts fills up with people at ground level. The pod’s destination, LAX Terminal 2, is lit up on its front and side like a hyperfuturistic bus sign.
Next, the pod descends into the tunnel below, utilizing what looks a lot like the car elevator Musk unveiled last year, until it reaches a track. Then, it speeds through a tunnel at what the video proclaims is about 200 kmh (124 mph) while other pods zoom by on the surrounding tracks.
Musk described the pod-like vehicle in a response to another Twitter user’s question: “I guess you could say it’s a 150 mph, underground, autonomous, electric bus that automatically switches between tunnels and lifts.”
He also described the plan as an “urban loop system,” noting that a single city could be home to hundreds of small stations. These many smaller stations would blend more easily into the urban landscape than the large subway or train stations currently used, according to Musk’s tweets.
While the vehicle and station design might be changing to place a greater focus on mass transit, the Boring Company’s primary goal remains the same. They’re simply reworking design elements to better serve the public.
Plenty has happened in the five years since Elon Musk first published his white paper on a system he called hyperloop. Since releasing that manifesto to the world, hundreds of people, and hundreds of millions of dollars have been put to work, all of… Engadget RSS Feed
Last year, the internet needled Elon Musk for tweeting he had verbal approval to dig a Hyperloop tunnel in Washington, DC, because officials said they granted no such thing. Now, however, The Boring Company does have an honest-to-gosh written permit,… Engadget RSS Feed
Plenty of places have committed to exploring the economic viability of building a Hyperloop, but nobody has been brave enough to say they'll actually construct one. It's why the news coming out of India's latest announcement is such a big deal, becau… Engadget RSS Feed
HTT has announced an agreement with an Ohio agency to launch a study on creating its first interstate hyperloop project in the U.S., connecting Chicago and Cleveland. The agreement with the Northern Ohio Area Coordinating Committee puts in motion a regional feasibility study, to be carried out in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Transportation. Various routes have been identified for the hyperloop service, which would operate a super high-speed system to accommodate transport at more than 700 miles per hour. TechNewsWorld
Hyperloop Transport Technologies (HTT) has brokered agreements with the North Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and the Illinois Department of Transportation for feasibility studies pertaining to its mass transit technology. This work will determine whether or not it’s practical to construct a route linking Cleveland with Chicago.
HTT CEO Dirk Ahlhorn described the collaboration as the “first real public-private partnership to bring Hyperloop travel to the US,” according to a report from Tech Crunch. If it comes to pass, the Hyperloop would allow passengers to travel between the two cities in just 28 minutes.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in January 2018, Ahlhorn said that HTT’s first track would be officially announced in 2018, and could be operational within three years. However, there’s no indication that the Chicago-Cleveland line would be the company’s top priority.
In September 2017, HTT came to an agreement with the Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board which will bring a Hyperloop system to India. And although the timeline for construction is still not clear, Ahlhorn indicated during last month’s address that Asia or the Middle East could be a smart place to start, economically speaking.
Of course, the company’s various international projects are expected to develop alongside one another. HTT has already submitted a letter, supported by a number of congressional representatives, that requests federal funding for the construction of necessary infrastructure.
Having had the pleasure of working with TNW full-time for over three years now, I’ve accumulated more email in my work inbox than I ever thought I’d receive in a lifetime. I remember trying to develop good habits to keep it clean back when I started here, but they were all in vain – and now I’ve got some 70,000 messages taking up more than 70 percent of my allotted 30GB of G Suite storage. I’ve devised a number of search filters to help with all that unwanted mail, but Gmail isn’t designed for triaging messages in such large volumes…
If you can’t go around it, go under it. That is the basic premise of the Tesla founder’s Boring Company and its plans for an autonomous high-speed electric rail tunnel system, known as Loop, to tackle Los Angeles’ traffic woes.
After Elon Musk got stuck in traffic in December 2016, he tweeted saying it was “driving him nuts” and he was going to “build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging”. This is the watershed moment that lead to the birth of the Boring Company.
Largely financed by Musk himself (amongst criticism that he’s having to sell hats to fund the project), The Boring Company hopes to one day enable travel between New York and Washington DC in under 30 minutes. This terminus is a long way off though, and numerous technological and political obstacles will have to be overcome if the firm’s ambitious are to reach their end. The latter category shouldn’t be underestimated.
Their latest challenge is to obtain planning permission from Culver City. A staff report released by the Culver City manager’s office earlier this week revealed details of the firm’s plans.
“The Boring Company, has proposed a privately funded human transportation tunnel that would run underneath the Westside of Los Angeles. The proposed route is from Hawthorne to West LA,” the report reads. Permission would provide a crucial win for the planned six and a half mile proof-of-process tunnel.
This ‘human transportation tunnel’ would provide the infrastructure for Musk’s innovative Loop technology. This is not to be confused with Hyperloop, which involves human-bearing pods travelling through a vacuum, but is a significant stride in this direction.
It was back in 2013 that Musk first latched on to the potential of Hyperloop. His whitepaper created great excitement in the industry, and after being assured of its feasibility by his advisors, President Obama stated pithily, “Let me know how I can help you”. However, the bridging technology to this is Loop.
Loop is a high-speed underground public transportation system that will carry passengers on autonomous electric skates travelling at 125-150 miles per hour. The aim is for skates (air casters) to be able to ferry up to 16 passengers or a single passenger vehicle.
Electric induction motors, like the one used in the Tesla Model S but rolled flat, can accelerate the skates to high subsonic velocity. Each skate would only need a boost roughly every 70 miles, keeping costs down.
Hyperloop is similar in that passengers would be transported through a tube in an autonomous, electricity-powered, pressurized capsule. The difference is that the use of a vacuum inside the tube eliminates air friction, allowing speeds of over 600 miles per hour.
While this concept sounds distinctly sci-fi, the idea first surfaced in 1909 when rocketry pioneer Robert Goddard proposed a vacuum train. Given the time required to reach these speeds and slow down again, Loop is much more suited to short distance travel.
The Culver City permit application is not the Boring Company’s first. In October 2017, they submitted plans to the City of Los Angeles for those sections of the tunnel that run beneath their jurisdiction. The city has yet to grant approval however, and there is some concern amongst councillors regarding the implications of allowing the private company to compete against existing transport providers.
There are encouraging signs when it comes to overcoming planning issues, though. The City of Hawthorne approved a subsurface easement agreement in August 2017 for The Boring Company to build a two mile long test tunnel, which is now under construction.
The Boring Company is also working with officials on a DC to Baltimore route (which could then be extended to New York). In a promising first step, the State of Maryland has granted permission for 10 miles of tunnels. Meanwhile, in Chicago, The Boring Company is competing to build a high-speed Loop connecting Chicago O’Hare Airport to downtown.
All hype and no loop?
Tunnels are traditionally extremely expensive to dig, sometimes costing as much as $ 1 billion per mile. For a Loop tunnel network to be viable, tunnelling costs would need to be 10 times cheaper.
The boring company has several ways of doing this. By placing vehicles on stabilised electric skates, the tunnel diameter can be reduced to under 14 feet. Halving the diameter would reduce tunnelling costs by three to four times.
Secondly, tunnel boring machines are incredibly slow. In fact, they’re 14 times slower than a snail, according to The Boring Company. They hope to produce machines that can go for longer, while reinforcing the tunnel at the same time – all with less human supervision. There is a pressing need to innovate technology that has been stagnant for decades.
Each station would consist of a bank of elevators. These can be as small as a parking space, so, unlike a subway, an unlimited number of stations can be built along the tunnel route.
Despite efforts in the past by Rand Corporation and ET3, and more recently, Tesla, SpaceX and Virgin Hyperloop One, a commercially viable Hyperloop remains a long way off. The challenge of drawing a hard or near hard vacuum in a tube, and then using electromagnetic suspension (maglev) to suspend transportation pods, is a mammoth technical undertaking.
“The problem with this approach is that it is incredibly hard to maintain a near vacuum in a room, let alone 700 miles (round trip) of large tubes with dozens of station gateways and thousands of pods entering and exiting every day,” says Musk in his whitepaper. “All it takes is one leaky seal or a small crack somewhere in the hundreds of miles of tube and the whole system stops working.”
When using a low-pressure system instead, a nose-mounted electric compressor fan, helps to overcome the Kantrowitz Limit and generates a cushion of air underneath the pod as it travels through the tube, providing a much more effective solution than wheels at high speeds.
Musk and his detractors are equally aware that there is still a great deal of design and proof of concept work to be done to bring Hyperloop from the drawing board to solid ground. This includes, more detail on the control mechanism for Hyperloop capsules, such as an attitude thruster or control moment gyros; detailed station designs with loading and unloading of passengers, and sub-scale testing to demonstrate the physics of Hyperloop. The technology’s advocates will also need to prove the benefits of Hyperloop over more conventional magnetic levitation system.
Visionaries and innovators have always been mocked by those who doubt the viability or realism behind their plans. Yet, regardless of whether Musk’s hyperloop dream finds form, while the doubters idly scoff, he is busy doing. And that’s just the kind of self-belief needed to introduce the first new mode of transport since the airplane.
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) CEO Dirk Ahlborn used his platform at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to tease an upcoming announcement about the placement of its first hyperloop track. At the conference, Ahlborn said, “This is going to be a busy year. We are expecting to announce the first commercial track this year.”
This puts HTT in line to be among the very first Hyperloop systems in the world. Ahlborn expects that the system could be open for public use within the next three years.
Ahlborn was sparse with details about where the first system might be built, but did afford a small piece of information: that locations in Asia and the Middle East could be a smart move, economically. He also noted that the first passenger capsule for the system was already being manufactured, and that it was “not some sort of test pod, this is the sort of capsule that you and I are going to be riding in a little bit.”
Yet Ahlborn recognized that before any system would be operational, regulations must be in place. This is the biggest hurdle that any emerging transportation technology must overcome.
HTT is just one of the many companies that are working to develop Elon Musk’s vision for a faster mode of land travel. The concept involves propelling passengers in pods at speeds rivaling what is possible in airplanes, using magnetism.
These systems could entirely rely on renewably generated power, making them both economical and better for the environment. Hyperloop systems could also do wonders for traffic-plagued areas common in India and along the U.S.’s Pacific Coast. Trips that would normally take hours could likely be cut down to mere minutes.
The future of Hyperloop technology, in all of its iterations, is certainly exciting. It has the potential to revolutionize travel in any area fortunate enough to benefit from a route, and could be an integral part of creating a new era of megacities. Luckily, if HTT gets its way, we won’t have to wait too long to find out what that might look like.